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Today I was trolling (?) scrolling (?) meandering through Facebook as I have been known to do on occasion when I came across a YouTube video performance by Il Divo, an international quartet performing Amazing Grace. It was a truly “amazing” rendition and while I have heard this song literally hundreds of times, I was particularly struck by the line “I once was blind, but now I see”. Let me tell you why.
Many of you won’t know that when I last preached at Umhlali in October 2016, as I stepped into the Vestry at 07:45, I lost the sight in my left eye! I wasn’t sure what was happening and didn’t tell anyone then, but it left me with a dilemma: I couldn’t see the faces of people in the congregation and, in the pulpit, my notes were just on the fringe of reading distance. I prayed for Divine guidance and thankfully managed to get through all three services. Without going into detail, I have had two surgeries and four months of weekly visits to the ophthalmologist to try and get my vision restored to what it was before, and Praise the Lord, we’re almost there. I have previously had some serious eye surgery, so in a sense, I know what it is like to be “blind” or to see poorly.
But this song set me thinking about spiritual or mental blindness and sight. Because I have not been comfortable reading for these four months, my devotional life has suffered. I have spent much less time with my Lord, which is ironic because I have had all the time in the world to do so. Was my physical handicap an excuse not to exercise my spiritual muscles? Is my faith so shallow that I could get so easily side tracked? But our God is truly good, because when I was at a low ebb, He allowed me to “see”.
I have seen kindness, and caring and prayerful concern from so many people. I have had amazing support from my wife Joan and family; our Home Group has been marvellous and from the wider Umhlali Methodist Church family I have been prayed for and uplifted by phone calls and emails. I have likewise received huge support from the Mens’ Breakfast Fellowship that meets at Gianni’s every Friday morning. It reminds me of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 which says: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…”
Finally, James 1:2-3 says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” I don’t believe that God was testing my faith, but my faith was indeed tested! God has also used this time to allow me to do some introspection, for me to see me. He has helped me to see how much I have thought I have been in control of my life when all the time He has been the conductor and this experience has taught me humility and patience …